In light of the rapid evolution of digitalisation, standardisation in the private sector has become a way for industry sectors to self-regulate new technologies. The WTO framework sets rules for how standards should be developed to safeguard open global trade, which is particularly relevant for technology products.
The WTO legal framework encourages the use of internationally agreed standards as a means to facilitate trade. However, to ensure that neither the standard-setting procedures, nor the use of standards, causes discriminatory treatment and unnecessary obstacles to trade, the framework includes several procedural requirements.
This article provides a brief summary of these requirements and some key aspects for organisations to consider when ensuring that their private standards and technical specifications are WTO compliant.